People in SEKEM: Ahmed Salah Abdel-Halim

The 49 year old Ahmed Salah Abdel-Halim spent 24 years, nearly half of his life,  working in SEKEM as a teacher – although he started his career life unknowing what he wanted to do. “I was only certain of my love for Mathematics and my desire to be in an unusual environment and experience new things,” he says.

A place that defies the norm

Ahmed Salah joint SEKEM right after he performed his duties in the military service. “I didn’t really had time to prepare for my new responsibility, but I followed my intuition and felt connected to the SEKEM ideals, especially in regard to education,” he tells. Although, Ahmed Salah loved Mathematics and graduated from the faculty of science yet he never pictured he’d end up being a teacher! “I knew I wanted to experience something unfamiliar and out of the ordinary, I wanted to find a place that defies the norms, and I found that right here in SEKEM,” says Ahmed Salah. “Although the farm looked far different than today, it was still very impressive – not only the beautiful scenery but the people and the spirit of the place captivated me.” Ibrahim Abouleish, the SEKEM founder, saw potential in him in spite of his young age and lack of experience. “He told me that he saw my love for knowledge, passion for math and openness to try new ways that why he offered me to become a teacher for  preparatory and secondary classes”, Ahmed recalls.

Ahmed Salah does not only teach at the SEKEM School but also gives courses for SEKEM co-workers. Here he is working at SEKEM’s Medical Center.

His first day at work was unusual to him – as for most of the new SEKEM co-workers –  yet it was just like every other day in SEKEM’s farm and thereby in his future life. He took part in the morning circle, hand in hand with his new colleagues, starting the day with music and lyrical words. “Although this was only my first day, it made me realize that this was the experience I was looking for; that I wouldn’t become like most teachers I had seen, and that I could actually play a role in shaping people’s minds and building their characters, not only help them to get good grades”, the devoted teacher remembers. In combination with his love for Mathematics, he knew that’s where he needed to be. In the coming years, Ahmed Salah became a Mathematics’ teacher for the preparatory and secondary class at SEKEM School.

“I realized that I wouldn’t become like most teachers I had seen, and that I could actually play a role in shaping people’s minds and building their characters, not only help them to get good grades.”

Ibrahim Abouleish played a very important role in his development path. “I felt a great deal of trust from him, which made me become more devoted and loving to my job, although it sometimes pushed my limits,” Ahmed tells about his relationship to the SEKEM founder. Hence, Ahmed Salah did not only  learn from the topics and the material discussed during the weekly meetings with Ibrahim Abouleish, but also from the way he presented each subject and included each participant: “It was great how Dr. Abouleish gaining each one’s attention by keeping an interactive yet planned and orderly flow.”

Education is the development of the mind, the senses and the will

What really became the core of Ahmed Salah’s teaching approach was Ibrahim Abouleish’s explanation for education: Education is the development of the mind, the senses, and the will. Developing the mind is through knowledge; developing the senses is through arts and the sense of beauty; and developing the will is through physical activities and movement. Thereby, Ahmed Salah became convinced that education is a continuous development, and is equally necessary for teachers as much as it is for students. He himself received several trainings through the years from local and international professionals, for instance on the students temperaments and characters, on how to relate and communicate with them or how to integrate arts. After experiencing the outcome of such teaching methods and activities, he helped developing a teacher’s training plan in cooperation with international educational experts and SEKEM friends.

Ahmed Salah’s career development started with being a class chief teacher, and goes to becoming the vice president for teachers’ affairs and even the school deputy principal. “I stayed all these years at SEKEM because I found what I was looking for… a beautiful environment, a special place, gracious people from different cultures and the possibility to contribute something to the community”, concludes Ahmed Salah, one of the longest standing SEKEM teachers.

Also Teachers Have to Learn: An Interview with Gamal El-Sayed
Teachers’ Art School
Individual Mementos: Handmade Copybooks by SEKEM Students